An alarming figure rocks Argentina: one woman dies every 30 hours due to gender-based violence. This is the harsh reality that has been present in our society for a long time, but hidden from view. Unfortunately, no detailed country-wide data exists; for either femicide (a women’s murder due to her gender condition), or any other type of violence; including symbolic and psychological violence which women are subjected to on a daily basis.
“Macho violence” is a fact in Argentina. Recently, Argentinian non-governmental organisation (NGO), La Casa del Encuentro, carried out a survey on the femicide index at the national level, these were however only based on what the media has reported.
This was a problem, not only because there are many others not reported, but also because physical violence is not the only kind; it is the last step in a long chain of silences. Invisible kinds of violence are the most dangerous – these are the ones that women suffer without any questioning because they have become naturalised, i.e. street harassment, inequalities in the work environment and images portrayed by the media, for example, as passive individuals devoted to domestic tasks. Thousands of stories of suffering such as these have not been registered anywhere, as there is no national statistics on the subject.
In 2015, in response, journalists, activists and artists started mobilising around the hashtag #NiUnaMenos (“NotOneLess”), calling for concrete actions to eradicate gender violence and inequality. A diverse cross-section of society adopted this movement and on 3 June 2015, a rally was held at Plaza Congreso.
It has been a long campaign which has used a range of actions. On 3 June 2016, one year since the first rally, the group doubled down on their efforts by revealing the environment endured by women through a nationwide citizen index of reliable data. With the movement continuing to grow a further two massive demonstrations under the theme #NiUnaMenos and #VivasNosQueremos was organised and a survey was launched.
The aim of the survey was to generate national statistics on “macho violence” (this term was used to differentiate between victims and offenders) and to visualise this daily problem. The Primer Índice Nacional de la Violencia Machista (First National Index of “Macho” Gender Violence) was established for citizens to collect information on gender-based violence in Argentina. Between 3 June and 3 September 2016, a detailed 186 question survey was made available to women and transgender women across the country.
Within the three month period, over 60,000 responses from women all over the country was collected. On 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) #NiUnaMenos presented the results.
The results were shocking; over 97% of the women who completed the survey have suffered some kind of gender violence, but only 5% had reported it to the police. Over 20% said they were violated. The survey helped those who answered realise that their rights are being violated. It also attempted to attract authorities and civil society’s attention to the fact that this is a problem which requires an urgent solution.
The data is currently being analysed, to be presented to officials to demand specific actions to eradicate “macho” gender violence against women. It is a testament to the scope that citizen-led data-based initiatives can have for demanding changes to public policies on specific problems or monitoring official data.
The survey is a successful case study of how to use technology in collecting valuable quantitative data for use as evidence in public awareness raising and advocacy campaigns. The results helped generate 126 articles in national and international media outlets.
The harnessing of data by the movement has played a significant role in enabling the number of broad but perceptible changes in public behaviour. Firstly, the media has stopped calling femicide “crimes of passion”, and show that it is not related to conflicts between partners, but to the place women hold in society. Secondly, the legal concept of “femicide” has been adopted. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, society has begun to become aware of the inequality between men and women in all aspects of social life.